14 Back to School Essentials for High School Students

back to school essentials for high school students

Going back to high school soon? Here are the only 14 back to school essentials every high school student will ever need!

Let’s get straight to it…


You have to carry all your essentials in something, right?

Getting an excellent backpack is one of the most important back to school essentials for high school students because health comes first.

You’re going to experience a lot of back pain (if you haven’t already) with a bad backpack. It’s not worth sacrificing your back for a little extra style.

Besides, there are plenty of backpacks out there that are comfortable and stylish all in one. Keep this in mind when looking for your next backpack.

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Pencil Case

A pencil case is the ultimate organizer for all your writing tools.

Pencil pouches rip easily and not using anything at all is even worse! That’s why you should look into hard shell pencil cases.

They never break (seriously I’ve had the same one for over 5 years) and they show you everything you have in one view. No more sorting through a giant pouch just to find a pencil.

If you need more room than a pencil case to store all your writing equipment, then you’re probably overpacking for high school.

Pens and Pencils

The most obvious of them all… pens and pencils!

You should note that high school does not make a big deal out of writing utensils and you can usually use whatever you have.

Here’s what I recommend you bring in a pencil case to school:

  • 2 Mechanical Pencils
  • 4 Pens (2 black, 1 blue, 1 red)
  • 1 Highlighter
  • Eraser

That’s it! Any more than that is just a waste to carry around and will make your life less organized.

Stick to the basics, pack simple, and you’ll be going back to school with ease.

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Highlighters are one of the most useful, yet overused tools in high school.

You really only need 2 highlighters at most (although I still recommend just having one).

The key is to only highlight what’s actually important. Instead of highlighting a whole paragraph, just highlight the keywords in that paragraph.

Highlighters are supposed to help you retain information easier when you go back to read your notes. If everything is highlighted, then technically nothing is highlighted.


Binders will save you from having 17 different folders and tons of paper flying around in your bag.

Grab 1 or 2 heavy duty binders with circle rings down the middle and a pocket on each side for storing assignments, homework, tests, etc.

Some teachers require having a binder specifically for their class. If they never actually check, you’re better off splitting 1 binder for 2 different classes.

This is the easiest and most effective setup in high school to keep things organized and store your loose leaf paper.

Loose Leaf Paper

Loose Leaf Paper is one of the biggest back to school essentials for high school students to write things down on the spot.

A lot of times, a small section of notes or writing down small information is not necessary to be written in a notebook.

Instead, loose leaf paper will allow you to write things down that can be turned in, passed to a friend, or kept at home while your longer notes are kept in a notebook.

You can store a section of your loose leaf paper in the rings of your binder while leaving the rest of the package at home to refill later on.

Make sure you get a size that works with your handwriting as some of them contain very large spaces in between each line and vice versa.

Related Post: 10 Time Management Tips for High School Students


A basic folder is definitely an essential for storing class related paperwork in a small compartment.

Why would you need a folder and a binder? Well, a binder is used for storing loose leaf paper, assignments, and takes up a lot of space in a backpack.

A folder can be used for classes that don’t require much paper or storage such as an elective. Folders can usually store more papers than a binder without tearing or stretching.

Make sure to grab a recycled plastic folder since the paper ones break after a week of using them.


Notebooks are a back to school essential for obvious reasons… taking notes.

You will be taking a lot of notes in high school and having a good notebook is the start of it all. This is how you will stay organized for the majority of classes.

You have 2 main options to choose from with notebooks… spiral and composition.

Do you have to pick 1 type of notebook for every class? No, and that’s why there are 2 options!

  • Composition notebooks are excellent for classes such as English and History.
  • Spiral notebooks are more useful for classes like Math, Science, and other electives.

Figure out which classes you’re taking and think through which notebook is most useful for each one.


A stapler will really come in handy for turning in long assignments and essays that require multiple sheets of paper.

Try finding a compact stapler (usually about 2-3 inches in length) that can easily fit into small pockets in your backpack.

You definitely don’t need a standard office-sized stapler to randomly staple papers together once in a while. Besides, most teachers have their own stapler which you can use as well.

Related Post: 12 Things You Should Know Before Starting High School


A ruler can be an extremely handy tool in high school for measurements in math, science, and beyond.

Other great uses for a ruler include drawing straight lines on papers and converting from inches to centimeters at a glance.

Because of their shape, you can fit any ruler in a standard size backpack with ease. They’re also super affordable.

Tape Roll

A small roll of tape will get you out of any sticky situation (no pun intended) in the middle of class.

Taping papers to your notebook is one of the handiest tricks you can use to avoid rewriting notes when you’ve missed a day of class or your teacher hands you a study guide.

Either way, having a tape roll is super convenient to have with you in class and at home.


This is one of the biggest high school secrets that so many students miss out on!

Having some sort of planner, agenda, or daily schedule organizer will literally save your life during high school.

If you are the lazy type or forget things easily, grab a planner and watch how organized your life becomes this school year.

Write down your homework, test dates, assignment due dates, to-do lists, or literally anything you can think of.

Think of it this way… the more things written down in your planner, the less mess you’ll have in your head.

Related Post: How to Be a Successful Teenager


As back to school essentials for high school come and go, calculators seem to be the main ones that actually improve over the years.

Yes the math is still the same, but these calculators are becoming mini computers now!

The point is, getting a new calculator every few years is important, especially towards the end of high school. Math classes will require advanced scientific calculators at that level.

If you have a scientific calculator from the start, you won’t have to bother switching later on in high school.

Index Cards

Index cards are a study essential for those of you that like learning with flashcards.

If you don’t like studying that way, I would still recommend grabbing index cards or sticky notes to jot down little things throughout your day.

Before getting a planner, I used to write down my homework on an index card everyday and bring it home with me. Best decision I ever made in high school.

Not to mention, they are also useful for class presentations and sharing ideas with classmates.


There you have it! 14 back to school essentials for high school students. These are the only ones you’ll really need to get your semester started.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions leave them down below. Thanks for reading!

  1. Most of these products are best purchased online at a place like amazon. Alternatively, places like Target or school supply stores are a great in-store option!

    – Daniel

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